Lands End Inn.
If the architecture of the Red Inn epitomizes the town’s genteel past, Lands End Inn represents the wild and wonderfully woolly. Though it has the address of 22 Commercial Street, this Shingle-style, tchotchke-and-craftwork-stuffed polygonal hulk — originally known as the Bungalow — is actually perched crazily atop Gull Hill. Its builder, Charles Lathrop Higgins (1863-1926), was a Provincetown native, descended through his mother from Peregrine White, a Pilgrim. He was a Boston haberdasher and milliner, a world traveler and lecturer, a lifelong bachelor, and — as is obvious from the Bungalow, the summer house he constructed on Gull Hill — more than something of a nonconformist.
Higgins purchased the property in 1903, according to the inn’s own historical narrative, and built the Bungalow the next year. Its 24 rooms, some of them teak-paneled, contained Asian art and antiquities. At one time, the Higgins property extended across Commercial Street to the beachfront. The main house could be reached by scaling the hill.
For a view of the Bungalow and Moroccan Tower, please see 22 Commercial Street.
After Higgins died in 1926, the family of Alfred E. Buckler converted the Bungalow into the Lands End Tea House, which was operating in the early 1930s. By the late 30s, it was known as Lands End Inn (without the apostrophe). Among the guests in this era were Rabbi Stephen Wise, a leading progressive leader whose legacy includes a prominent New York synagogue named in his honor. The Bucklers sold to Jules Norman and Harold Lague in 1955. Around this time, a driveway was paved to the main house from Point Street. The new owners added heating.
David Schoolman (1944-1995) took over in 1972. He added the veranda in the 1980s, to the designs of his friend Bill Whitney, a landscape architect. He greatly expanded the building in 1993, adding the second tower to the West End skyline. Originally called the New Tower, it is now known as the Bay Tower — to distinguish it from the Moroccan Tower. Schoolman also added to the collection of artifacts within. Schoolman lived at the inn, in what is now designated the Higgins Room. In his expansion, he planned to occupy new quarters, but decided to make it part of the accommodation. It is now called the Schoolman Suite, and is the largest room at the inn. Lands End had become such an icon that it was given a strong supporting role in the 1995 comedy Lie Down With Dogs. Several key scenes early in the movie were filmed there. In fact, it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that Lands End is one of the best things about that movie. After Schoolman’s death in 1995 from AIDS, the inn was owned by the David Adam Schoolman Trust.
For a view of the veranda addition, please see 22 Commercial Street.
For a view of the Bay Tower, please see 22 Commercial Street.
Michael MacIntyre and his husband, Bob Anderson (1957-2004), bought the property in 2001. The sale provided income to the trust which it invested in the development of theater in Provincetown; most notably with a $750,000 gift toward the construction of the Provincetown Theater at 238 Bradford Street. MacIntyre and Anderson had already developed the Brass Key in Key West, Fla., and expanded the Brass Key at 67 Bradford Street. At Lands End, air-conditioning was added, decks were expanded, the gardens were rehabilitated, and the landscaping of the grounds was completed to plans that had been devised by Schoolman. Speaking the two Brass Keys and Lands End, The Banner said of Anderson: “His sense of style, business acumen and dedication to superb service made these properties among the most widely acclaimed in the country.”
Television came late to Lands Inn, prompted by the needs of a special guest: Kathleen Turner. “Two days before her arrival, her publicist contacted Michael in somewhat of a panic: he discovered the lack of televisions after reading through the inn’s website,” according to an account on the inn’s site. “It turned out Ms. Turner was addicted to CNN and couldn’t sleep without it on all night long. An electrician was called, a contract was signed with the cable company, and a 48-inch TV was bought and installed in the room that was to be Ms. Turner’s.”
In December 2012, MacIntyre sold the inn to Eva and Stan Sikorski. They are both Polish natives (he from Warsaw, she from Łódź), but they met in Princeton. He worked in technology and business development for General Motors, Verizon, and Nokia. Stan had been coming to the Cape since he was 10, and was long in awe of Lands End. “I’d look up the hill occasionally and think, ‘Wow,'” he told Clea Simon of The Boston Globe
Though they keep updating the place, the Sikorskis have largely retained — as MacIntyre and Anderson did — the décor and nomenclature of the 18 rooms as Schoolman had them: Bay Tower Room, Cape Cod Room, English Garden Room, French Country Suite, Gold Room, Gull Hill Room, HIggins Room, Library Room, Mayflower Room, Mission Oak Room, Moroccan Tower Room, Schoolman Suite, Sunrise Room, Sunset Room, Tiger Lily Room, Victorian Room, West Indies Room, and Wisteria Room.
MacIntyre left the Sikorskis with some counsel. “I explained to them, you will own this on paper, but you really don’t own it at all,” he told The Globe. “You’re really just caretakers for the next people.”
¶ Last updated on 3 May 2018.
Michael MacIntyre wrote on 13 February 2013: On Dec. 6, 2012, the inn was sold by Michael MacIntyre to Stan and Eva Sikorski. The Sikorskis have a home base in Princeton, N.J., but spent the last 15 years living and working in Greece. They have never owned an inn previously to the Lands End Inn, but they are well suited to the business due to their personable personalities.
Charles R. Harris wrote on 19 November 2017: Yes, I am sure that Stan and Eva Sikorski are lovely people, but Michael MacIntyre wrote the book on bed and breakfasts or guest houses. In December 1986, Michael opened the Brass Key on Frances Street in Key West, having restored what was called the Poinsettia Inn with the help of a Key West architect — not sparing any effort or creativeness. I first stayed at Brass Key in Key West in November 1987 and made it a regular habit until 2000. I made friends at this delightful place with whom I still stay connected. We often went out for the evening en masse, all together.
And then Michael purchased a small bed and breakfast on Court Street in Provincetown. And the rest is history. Even the legendary Hanns Ebensten [1923-2006], who wrote “another book” on travel, was charmed by Michael’s efforts. So if Michael will permit me, I would like to also send my very best wishes to Stan and Eva Sikorskis with the hope that they will continue to preserve this West End jewel high atop Gull Hill and above the site where the Pilgrims first made landfall before they weighed anchor and sailed on to Plymouth.
Walter Arsenault wrote on 13 March 2018: I remember David — he purchased the inn with a down payment obtained from a credit card. He planted thousands of daffodils and his spring garden party was a magical vision of locals in soft, wispy clothes, long hair, and beads on a windy hilltop.
For further reading online
Way Up Along (An Early History of the Land’s End Inn), by Paul Churchill (1993). Provincetown History Preservation Project, Municipal Collection, Page 5669.